Facebook, Fake News and Verification

Facebook has a fake news problem. In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election as the 45th President of the United States, the social network has come under sustained criticism for failing to prevent the spread of misinformation and disinformation. Numerous articles have been written dissecting the phenomenon, the possible impact it had on the US election and what Facebook should be doing about it.

But what has been fundamentally missing from the discussion is the responsibility of users to verify the content they consume online; particularly on social media where content is shared by “trusted” friends and family. As an open source intelligence (OSINT) centre, our day-to-day work involves critically evaluating publicly available information to verify the accuracy, veracity and reliability of sources and content.  Continue reading

Another Bump in the Road: Myanmar’s Fledgling Fight for Democracy

On November 8th, Myanmar is heading to the polls in what is largely pitched as the most free and fair elections of their recent history. In a climate of military political dominance, severe human rights abuses and historically insular foreign policies, analysts across the world will be paying close attention to the forthcoming election season. The exclusion of dozens of candidates from the final election candidate list represents the latest in an ongoing series of events suggestive of the endemic struggle for democracy.

Since the 1962 coup d’état, Myanmar has been under the political dominance of the army elites, who stand accused of gross abuses of human rights, religious intolerance and media suppression. Their suppressive rule is symbolized by the house arrest of the leader of the opposition, Nobel Laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi, who has led the fight for democracy. A general election in 2011 resulted in the dissolution of the military junta and the election of a nominally civilian government, headed by the former military commander, Thein Sein.

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